In the weeks after the initial peace accord between the Colombian government and the FARC was rejected in the referendum vote by a slim margin, negotiators have been working around the clock to modify the accord to appeal to a broader public that insists they still want peace with justice.
In a statement released today, we join with other civil society organizations calling on Colombian political leaders to approve a final accord in a timely manner.
INTERNATIONAL CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS CALL FOR COLOMBIANS TO REACH AND APPROVE A FINAL ACCORD WITH VICTIMS AT THE CENTER
November 17, 2016. In the aftermath of the narrow “no” vote against the peace accords signed by the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas, we are heartened by the determined efforts of broad sectors of Colombian society to find a path to peace. We commend the constructive actions of the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas and their willingness to persevere to reach a negotiated settlement that can end fifty years of brutal war. We salute the creative and generous efforts of Colombian students, artists, Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, women, unions, civil society organizations, business leaders, and, above all, victims of violence, as they seek to encourage “an accord now.”
As international civil society organizations, we urge the Colombian government, FARC and Colombian society to finalize and approve an accord which has the well-being and perspectives of victims at its core. One of the strengths of the peace process so far has been the willingness of negotiators to listen to and incorporate the perspectives of victims of all walks of life and of all armed actors—including victims of the guerrillas, paramilitaries, and the Colombian armed forces. This has included a recognition that all armed actors have committed gross human rights violations and have an obligation to tell the truth about their crimes. This gain must not be lost.
We encourage the negotiating parties to preserve important advances for victims in the accords, including, among others: the recognition of the rights of Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities (including the ethnic chapter); the agreement to search for, identify, and return in a dignified manner, those missing and forcibly disappeared; the emphasis on the impact of the conflict on the campesino population; the recognition of the rights of women and their role in peacebuilding; and the recognition of LGBTI Colombians as victims of the conflict. We also underscore the importance of the commitment in the accords to dismantle paramilitary successor groups, including by investigating their financial and political backing.
It is also critical that the accords address the historic inequality within Colombia that fueled the conflict. This includes the accords’ commitment to protect small farm families, such as by formalizing titles on 7 million hectares of land and distributing 3 million hectares from a Land Fund. It also includes restituting the land of those who were forced to flee by violence, retaining as a minimum the guarantees for victims that are already part of the 2011 Victims Law. Colombian workers and their unions, designated
as an official victims group, also assert that the peace process must address inequality and maintain the demand for collective reparations.
We underscore the urgency of carrying out measures for the protection for human rights defenders. This is essential to reach the dreamed-of future in which those who protect their fellow citizens’ rights will no longer have to put their own lives at risk. It is especially critical in this tense moment in which human rights defenders face elevated risks.
Colombia cannot afford to lose this historic opportunity for peace. We urge members of the international community to lend all their efforts to help Colombian society reach a final peace accord with the rights of all victims of the conflict at its core. We urge the next U.S. administration to provide support for Colombia to consolidate peace. International civil society organizations like ours stand ready to support a just and lasting peace.
Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)
Colombia Human Rights Committee
Fellowship of Reconciliation Peace Presence
Latin America Working Group
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Mennonite Central Committee U.S., Washington Office
National Security Archive
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
Washington Office on Latin America